"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

British Press NOT to Reveal When Terrorists are Muslims

European human rights chiefs order the British press NOT to reveal when terrorists are Muslims in crackdown on freedom of speech 

By Matt Dathan, Political Correspondent For Mailonline

European human rights chiefs have told the British press it must not report when terrorists are Muslim. 

The recommendations came as part of a list of 23 meddling demands to Theresa May’s government on how to run the media in an alarming  threat to freedom speech. 

The report, drawn up by the Council of Europe's human rights watchdog, blamed the recent increase in hate crimes and racism in the UK on the 'worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians', although the research was done before the EU referendum campaign had even begun.

The suggestions sent to Downing Street urging the UK Government to reform criminal law and freedom of the press and in a brutal criticism of the British press, the report recommends ministers 'give more rigorous training' to journalists.

But UK ministers firmly rebutted the remarkable demands, telling the body: 'The Government is committed to a free and open press and does not interfere with what the press does and does not publish, as long as the press abides by the law.'

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), chaired by Christian Ahlund (file picture) said discussions over immigration had caused increasing 'xenophobia'.

The report, from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) body, said there had been an increase in hate speech and racist violence in Britain between March 2009 and March 2016.

In an audacious move, the report recommends the British media be barred from reporting the Muslim background of terrorists. 

And it comes after multiple terror atrocities by Muslim extremists across Paris, Brussels, Munich and other German cities over the last year. 

Over the same period, there have been no major terror attacks in Britain. Which couldn't have been said yesterday, the anniversary of the Islamic suicide bomber at the Ariana Grande concert.

The 83-page report states: 'ECRI considers that, in light of the fact that Muslims are increasingly under the spotlight as a result of recent ISIS-related terrorist acts around the world, fuelling prejudice against Muslims shows a reckless disregard, not only for the dignity of the great majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom, but also for their safety.

'In this context, it draws attention to a recent study by Teeside University suggesting that where the media stress the Muslim background of perpetrators of terrorist acts, and devote significant coverage to it, the violent backlash against Muslims is likely to be greater than in cases where the perpetrators' motivation is downplayed or rejected in favour of alternative explanations.'

Alternative explanations - where have I heard that before? More often than not there is no honest 'alternative explanation', which means the press has to resort to dishonest 'alternative explanations', or just not bother explaining motivation at all. In fact, most media are already too soft on Muslim terrorists and child abusers. When was the last time you saw the Quran quoted as justifying the rape of a child, the beating of a wife, the murder of infidels? You've never seen it in Main Stream Media, ever.

The ECRI regularly assesses incidents of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance across the EU's 28 member states.

It bases its analysis on 'a great deal of information gathered from a wide variety of sources'.

ECRI Chair Christian Ahlund, said: 'It is no coincidence that racist violence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians.'

The report also claimed that June's Brexit vote 'seems to have led to a further rise in 'anti-foreigner' sentiment, making it even more important that the British authorities take the steps outlined in our report as a matter of priority.' 

So, the ECRI wants the British press to pretend that the thousands of little girls being groomed, raped and gang-raped by 99% Muslim men, has nothing to do with Islam. It wants Brits to be nice to child rapists, to those who practice Female Genital Mutilation, to those who sell their young daughters to much older men as brides, to those who run down or blow-up innocent people. Yes, be nice and invite more Muslims to come into Britain to molest our children and kill us. What madness!

Elon Musk's ‘Pravda’ to Rate Credibility of Journalists & Publications

I have been waiting a long time for the brilliant inventor/entrepreneur to do something that might actually benefit society in a way other than involving transportation. He has the ability to put this program together in a way that is more than just theatre or a stage for fools. At least, I hope he has that ability, and I wonder what algorithms will be employed for social and political honesty.  

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk appears to have declared war on the media, tweeting that he was launching a site that would let the public rate the credibility of journalists, editors and publications - which he will call “Pravda.”

Annoyed by the recent media coverage of him and his companies, Musk fired off a series of tweets on Wednesday, culminating with the proposal for the new site. The public would be able to rate the “core truth of any article” and track the “credibility score over time” for each reporter, editor and publication, he said.

Pravda, the word for “truth” in most Slavic languages, was also the name of the official newspaper of the Russian (later Soviet) Communist Party for much of the 20th century.

In a follow-up tweet, Musk explained the reasoning behind creating such a site. Even if the public doesn’t care, he said, “the journalists, editors & publications will. It is how they define themselves.”

I have to take issue with that statement. In the last couple years it seems most MSM journalists define themselves by their partiality to specific issues. They are governed by their feelings rather than common sense and logic. They constantly take sides on issues with no attempt to see the other side. They fail miserably to tell the honest and whole truth.

To the warnings that bots and trolls could game the system, and that the public doesn’t care about the truth, the Tesla and SpaceX mogul replied, “I have faith in the people.” But not journalists!

He also had a testy exchange with a reporter from the Verge, who accused him of acting like US President Donald Trump.

Anytime anyone criticizes the media, the media shrieks ‘You’re just like Trump!’” Musk replied. “Why do you think he got elected in the first place? Because no ones believes you any more.”

The tech mogul is hardly the first to propose fact-checking and rating journalists for credibility. A cottage industry of “fact-checkers” has mushroomed following the 2016 US presidential election. Social network giant Facebook recently announced it would rank news sites based on “community trust” and partnered up with a controversial think-tank to “protect elections” from misinformation.

Last year, an attempt by Hillary Clinton supporters to create a fact-checking media platform was met with ridicule. That project, called Verrit, has only consisted of a logo on the homepage since February.

The replies to Musk’s proposals have ranged from calling him a “Typical white rich a**hole” and accusing him of “swerving into Kanye territory” to asking if he’s taking applications and suggestions that he just buy out Twitter or PornHub (“Trust me. Everyone already goes there.”)

In case you haven't noticed, this article was taken from RT. I suspect everyone in Russia goes to PornHub, at least that's what RT would have you believe, but there are many people who actually rise above the lowest levels of man's humanity; you just might have a hard time finding one in post-Communist Russia, at least, according to RT.

A poll that Musk posted on Twitter suggests a lot of the users on the platform agree with him. So far, 87 percent of nearly 200,000 voters favor the new project, with only 13 percent choosing “No, media are awesome” as their preferred option.

The 13% were probably all journalists.

Musk’s mounting frustration with the media comes amid recent bad press Tesla’s Model 3 sedan has received over braking problems. Bloomberg reported in April that Tesla was losing $6,500 a minute and it could fail before the end of the year. There has even been a proposal to oust him as chairman of Tesla’s board.

Critics have long accused the South African-born billionaire of scoring generous government subsidies for projects such as electric cars, solar roofs or high-speed mass transit. While Tesla, SolarCity and Hyperloop haven’t quite lived up to hype, Musk’s SpaceX has been very successful at launching payloads into orbit and reusing the launchers.

It appears Musk already incorporated Pravda Corp. in California last October, according to documents dug up by one reporter.

Musk has a history of picking symbolic or funny names for his endeavors. Tesla is named after a Serbian-American inventor of alternate current (AC), while the enterprise drilling tunnels for Hyperloop is called The Boring Company.

Yulia Skripal Speaks to Media - Looking Forward to Going Home to Russia

Yulia Skripal, in first comments to media, shocked by poisoning but grateful to be alive

Guy Faulconbridge · Thomson Reuters

Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned in Salisbury along with her father, Russian spy Sergei Skripal, spoke to Reuters on Wednesday in London about her ordeal. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

Yulia Skripal survived an assassination attempt that U.K. authorities blame on Russia. But the daughter of one of Russia's most famous spies says she wants to return to her country "in the longer term," despite being poisoned.

"The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking," Skripal, 33, told Reuters in an exclusive statement. "My life has been turned upside down."

She was discharged from hospital last month after being found unconscious on a public bench in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4 along with her father Sergei, a former colonel in Russia's military intelligence who had betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign spy service.

"I came to the UK on the 3rd of March to visit my father, something I have done regularly in the past. After 20 days in a coma, I woke to the news that we had both been poisoned," Skripal said in her first media appearance since the poisoning. She contacted Reuters through the British police.

Skripal was speaking from a secret location in London as she is under the protection of the British state. She was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital about five weeks after the poisoning and has not been seen by the media until now.

The Russian Embassy fears Yulia and Sergei are being held against their wills. They say analysis of Julia's letter indicates that it was written in English by a native-English speaker. Russians, however, have been paranoid since the Communist Revolution - Communism and paranoia go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, they have good reason for the paranoia in this case as it almost certainly is a false flag operation.

Sergei Skripal is shown in August 2006 at a military court in Moscow. He was subsequently relocated to Britain four years later as part of a prisoner swap. (Yury Senatorov/EPA-EFE)

"We are so lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination. Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful," she said in her written English statement.

"As I try to come to terms with the devastating changes thrust upon me both physically and emotionally, I take one day at a time and want to help care for my Dad till his full recovery. In the longer term, I hope to return home to my country."

International repercussions

Skripal spoke in Russian and supplied a statement that she said she had written herself in both Russian and English. She signed both documents after making her statement and declined to answer questions after speaking on camera.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s. May blames Russia for the poisoning. It was the first known use of a military-grade nerve agent on European soil since the Second World War. Allies in Europe and the United States sided with May's view and ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.

British military personnel work near the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found critically ill in Salisbury on March 4. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Russia retaliated by expelling Western diplomats. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement and accused the British intelligence agencies of staging the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he thought Yulia Skripal was speaking under duress.

"We have not seen her or heard from her," he said when asked to comment on the story.

'No one speaks for me'

Russia's ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, has repeatedly demanded to see Yulia, who was a Russian citizen when she was poisoned.

"I'm grateful for the offers of assistance from the Russian Embassy. But at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services," said Skripal, who wore a light blue summer dress and bore a scar on her neck. "Also, I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement, that no one speaks for me or for my father, but ourselves."

Mystery surrounds the attack. The motive is unclear, as is the logic of using such an exotic nerve agent which has overt links to Russia's Soviet past. Russian officials question why Russia would want to attack an aging turncoat who was pardoned and swapped in a Kremlin-approved 2010 spy swap.

A handwritten statement released by poisoning victim Yulia Skripal on Wednesday.
(Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB spy, said earlier this month that Sergei Skripal would have been dead if he was attacked with a weapons grade agent.

"I don't want to describe the details but the clinical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing," Yulia said in Russian.

Security arrangements hush-hush

Yulia's father was discharged from hospital on May 18. At one point doctors feared both patients could have suffered brain damage. He is no longer in a critical condition, Salisbury hospital said.

Yulia grew up as the Soviet Union crumbled and then in the chaos that followed its 1991 collapse.

Her Facebook page says she started studying at Moscow's School No. 63 in 1991 before gaining admission to Moscow State Humanities University in 2001, a year after Putin was first elected as Russian president.

In December 2004, her father was arrested by federal security service agents on suspicion of treason: passing secrets to Britain's MI6 intelligence agency.

Skripal, recruited by British spies while in Spain, ended up in Britain after a Cold War-style spy swap that brought 10 Russian spies captured in the United States back to Moscow in exchange for those accused by Moscow of spying for the West.

Yulia arrived in Britain from Russia at London's Heathrow Airport on March 3 on one of her regular visits to her father. The pair were found unconscious a day later.

Yulia Skripal is shown at an undisclosed location in London. She said she is grateful to the staff at Salisbury's hospital. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

"I am grateful to all of the wonderful, kind staff at Salisbury hospital, a place I have become all too familiar with. I also think fondly of those who helped us on the street on the day of the attack."

Police have said they would not discuss the security arrangements in place for the Skripals.

Nick Bailey, a British police officer who responded to the incident, was also hospitalized and subsequently released weeks before the Skripals.

Amnesty International: Rohingya Militants Massacred Hindus in Myanmar

The other side of the story, for a change

By Daniel Uria  |  (UPI)

Rohingya Muslim militants massacred 99 Hindu citizens in Myanmar, including 45 whose bodies were found in a mass grave near Yebawkya village, according to an Amnesty International report. Photo by Nyein Chan Naning/EPA

A group of Rohingya Muslim militants killed nearly 100 Hindu civilians in a series of attacks in Myanmar, according to an Amnesty International report.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army killed 99 Hindu people in one, or possibly two massacres, in August 2017, Amnesty International concluded after reviewing dozens of interviews and photographic evidence.

"Our latest investigation on the ground sheds much-needed light on the largely under-reported human rights abuses by ARSA during northern Rakhine State's unspeakably dark recent history," Amnesty International Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan said.

Under-reported is right. MSM only reports one side of a dispute anymore. They pick one side and vilify the other. 

The ethnic cleansing committed by Myanmar's military was inhumane and unforgivable, but perhaps can be understood a little better in the context of Islamic invasion. This is how Buddhist Myanmar has always seen the Rohingyas, whether Muslim or Hindu, they threatened the Buddhist way of life. Islam is a threat to existing social constructs everywhere they land. Europeans are only just beginning to see this. Burmese have seen it for decades.

On Aug. 26, ARSA members attacked the Hindu village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, rounding up 53 people before they robbed, bound, and blindfolded them and took them to the outskirts of the village where they were executed.

Twenty men, 10 women, and 23 children, including 14 under the age of eight were killed.

The same day, all 46 of the Hindu men, women, and children in the neighboring village of Ye Bauk Kyar disappeared, according to the report.

The bodies of 45 people from Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik were found in mass graves in September, while the 46 bodies of those from Ye Bauk Kyar haven't been found.

Amnesty International's report also highlighted "an unlawful and grossly disproportionate campaign of violence by Myanmar's security forces" in response to attacks by ARSA fighters on about 30 Myanmar security posts on Aug. 25.

I hate that word, 'disproportionate'! They use it against Israel all the time as though Israel should tolerate Palestinian terrorism and respond by slapping their wrists. 

Militant Islam is a cancer! If you have a cancer would tell your doctor that you don't feel too bad so just perform 'proportionate' surgery? 'No need to be 'disproportionate' and remove the whole cancer, just enough to get by for a few more months!' 

This is the situation Myanmar faced and responded to so violently. It is also the situation Europe will find itself in within a few generations, if not sooner.

"ARSA's appalling attacks were followed by the Myanmar military's ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population as a whole. Both must be condemned - human rights violations or abuses by one side never justify abuses or violations by the other," Hassan said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Love, Marriage & Divorce in 15 Minutes in the Gulf States

Groom divorces bride 15 minutes into marriage

Gulf News
Bassam Za'za', Legal and Court Correspondent

Dubai: The marriage between a couple lasted less than 15 minutes following a misunderstanding between the groom and his father-in-law, who was in a rush to collect his daughter’s bride price.

The newly-married man divorced his wife within 15 minutes after signing the marriage contract after he felt demeaned by his father-in-law who did not want to wait for him to bring part of the agreed-upon money from his parked car.

The man was believed to have an agreement with the bride’s father to pay Dh100,000 (about $27,000 USD) for the marriage and mention the amount in the contract, an Arabic news report said on Tuesday.

According to the father-husband agreement, the man was supposed to pay Dh50,000 at the time of signing the contract inside the Sharia judge’s office and the remaining amount upon leaving the court building.

Family members and friends accompanied the bride and the groom to the Sharia judge’s office to witness the signing of the marriage contract.

The groom paid the bride’s father Dh50,000 in the judge’s office at the time of signing, according to the news report, and as the bride, groom and attendees walked out, the bride’s father asked his son-in-law to pay the rest.

The groom asked his father-in-law to wait for a few minutes and assured him that the other Dh50,000 was in his car.

The woman’s father insisted the groom pay up immediately, even though the groom told him that he would get the money within five minutes after leaving the court building.

The father-in-law then told the man to send a relative or friend to get the money, a lawyer who is handling the case confirmed to Gulf News on Tuesday.

The lawyer, who wished not to be named, added, “The groom felt insulted and demeaned by his father-in-law. He told the bride’s father that he did not want his daughter as his wife and divorced her in less than 15 minutes from signing the marriage contract.”

I wonder if that was the real story? I wonder if the bride's father suspected that the groom would run off with the bride without paying the remaining Dh50,000? In fact, I would bet money that such was the case which just goes to show you what kind of man the father was selling his daughter to. I presume the father kept the first Dh50,000. 

A Year After Massacre at Ariana Grande Concert, UK Gov't Admits Possible Complicity With Terrorist

'Ties to terror groups': Academic warns govt repeating mistakes that led to Manchester attack

FILE PHOTO: An injured concert-goer is helped by police and emergency responders at the Manchester Arena after the explosion. © Joel Goodman / Global Look Press / Global Look Press

One year on from the Manchester terrorist attack, the UK government has only just admitted its links to the violent jihadist group which influenced Salman Abedi – the suicide bomber who murdered 22 people.

Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi and his father, Ramadan, had long-standing links to Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Since the horrific attack in Manchester, it has been revealed that Abedi would visit Libya on the school holidays, fighting alongside his father to topple the Gaddafi regime.

LIFG, a group with Al-Qaeda links, has since disbanded after it was ousted from the North African country, leaving the group's leaders as refugees in Turkey – among other countries –  according to Dr Mabruk Derbesh, a Libyan academic formerly of the University of Tripoli.

In 2002, former MI6 agent and whistleblower David Shayler accused the spy agency of sponsoring the LIFG to assassinate the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The LIFG were allegedly given $160,000 for a failed assassination attempt in February 1996. The UK government has denied the accusation, though a link between it and the group was admitted to last month.  

Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt admitted the ties to the Libyan jihadist group on April 3, whilst responding to a written question submitted by Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle. Burt's response stated that "during the Libyan conflict in 2011 the British government was in communication with a wide range of Libyans involved in the conflict against the [Gaddafi] regime forces.”

...this included former members of LIFG...

"It is likely that this included former members of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and 17 February Martyrs' Brigade, as part of our broad engagement during this time."

The area of Manchester in which Salman Abedi grew up was home to a number of other LIFG members, including former senior commanders such Abd al-Baset Azzouz, who left Manchester to go to Libya and run a 200-300-strong militant network for Osama Bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Azzouz is reported to be an expert bomb-maker.

Professor Mabruk Derbesh, a Libyan academic formerly of the University of Tripoli who now lives in Sweden, spoke on how, despite admitting working with jihadists, the British government is not learning from its mistakes.

"He was a teen when he went to Libya," Derbesh said. "He probably killed who knows how many soldiers… you have no idea how many psychological diseases he could have brought with him. This guy was a British government asset and he should have been classified as that. [His family] are all assets.

"This Manchester attack happened and finally the government admitted [ties to LIFG]. Tomorrow there could be another attack and it could take them another two or three years for them to admit it. The British government doesn't seem to be learning from its mistakes."

Derbesh added that, even though LFIG is no more, the UK government continues to assist other militia groups in North Africa and the Middle East just like how it reportedly sponsored LFIG, the very group that indoctrinated the Ramadan Abedi and eventually his son.

"The British government has many ties with terrorist groups - Islamist and otherwise. The British government will never open up [about their links to such groups]. I wish they'd stop supporting militias. It's a mafia led by the the British government –- they... [use] the excuse of fighting ISIS. Let's stop this. It is not helpful."

British-born Salman Abedi had recently returned from Libya before he blew himself up at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. Less than a week later, Tripoli police arrested Abedi's younger brother and father. Abedi's brother, Hashem, was arrested on suspicion of ties to Islamic State and plotting an attack in Tripoli. Abedi's older brother Ismail was detained in the UK over the attack.

This just further confirms my theory that the UK, the USA, and who knows how many other countries are frequently wrapped up in such complex intrigues that they hardly know what side of a war they are on. And all too often, find themselves on more than one side.

This ideology of supporting your enemy because he is the enemy of your other enemy belongs back in the middle ages. It is morally reprehensible and not justifiable in a sane world. Is it not all about supplying weapons with complete disregard to whom? Is it not Deep State ideology? It is sheer madness!

Monday, May 21, 2018

US, Canada, Latin American Group of Countries Won't Recognize Venezuelan Election

Corruption is Everywhere - Certainly in Venezuelan Elections

Voter turnout was under 50% as mainstream opposition boycotted the election
Thomson Reuters

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores wave to supporters on Sunday in Caracas after the National Electoral Council said he was re-elected in a vote marred by opposition boycott. (Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press)

Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro faced international condemnation on Monday after his re-election in a vote foes denounced as a farce that cemented autocracy in the crisis-stricken oil-producing nation.

Maduro, 55, hailed his win in Sunday's vote as a victory against "imperialism," but his main rival alleged irregularities and refused to recognize the result.

In a blistering statement, the 14-nation "Lima Group" of countries in the Americas from Canada to Brazil, said Monday it did not recognize the legitimacy of the vote and would be downgrading diplomatic relations.

The group deplored Venezuela's "grave humanitarian situation" behind a migrant exodus and promised to help co-ordinate with international financial bodies to crack down on corruption and block loans to the government.

In a statement on Monday, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called the election "illegitimate and anti-democratic."

"The Maduro regime has once again failed its people by restricting Venezuelans' rights and liberty and by preventing the free participation of opposition parties," she said.

"Canada rejects the Venezuelan electoral process and its results as not representing the democratic will of Venezuela's citizens."

Venezuela's mainstream opposition boycotted the election, given that two of its most popular leaders were barred from running; authorities had banned the coalition and its various parties from using their names, and the election board is run by Maduro loyalists. Turnout was under 50 per cent.

Thousands of Maduro supporters, many wearing red berets, hugged and danced outside the Miraflores presidential palace, showered in confetti in the yellow, blue and red colours of the Venezuelan national flag.

"The revolution is here to stay!" a jubilant Maduro told the crowd, promising to prioritize economic recovery after five years of recession in the OPEC nation of 30 million people.

"Let's go, Nico!" his supporters chanted until after midnight during party scenes in downtown Caracas.

"We mustn't cave to any empire, or go running to the International Monetary Fund as Argentina did. The opposition must leave us alone to govern," said government supporter Ingrid Sequera, 51. She wore a T-shirt with a logo featuring the eyes of Maduro's socialist predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

Senior U.S. State Department officials declared Sunday's vote a "sham" and repeated threats to impose sanctions on Venezuela's all-important oil sector, which is already reeling from falling output, a brain-drain and creaking infrastructure.

Spain, which has led European Union criticism of Maduro, also weighed in.

"Venezuela's electoral process has not respected the most basic democratic standards. Spain and its European partners will study appropriate measures and continue to work to alleviate Venezuelans' suffering," tweeted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

However, regional leftist allies of Venezuela, from Cuba to Bolivia, sent their congratulations. China and Russia, which have both poured money into Venezuela in recent years, were also unlikely to join in the international condemnation.

'Tragic cycle' for Venezuela 

The election board said Maduro won 5.8 million votes, versus 1.8 million for his chief challenger Henri Falcon, a former governor who broke with the opposition boycott to stand.

Turnout was 46 per cent, the election board said, way down from the 80 per cent at the last presidential vote in 2013. Suggesting turnout was even lower, an electoral board source told Reuters 32.3 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots by 6 p.m. local time as most polls shut.

The government used ample state resources during the campaign and state workers were pressured to vote.

'Red spots' near polling stations

Falcon called for a new vote, complaining about the government's placing of nearly 13,000 pro-government stands called "red spots" close to polling stations nationwide.

Mainly poor Venezuelans lined up to scan state-issued "fatherland cards" at red tents after voting, in hope of receiving a "prize" promised by Maduro. The "fatherland cards" are required to receive benefits including food boxes and money transfers.

Some anti-government activists said the opposition coalition should have fielded a candidate regardless of how uneven the playing field might be. But the opposition coalition, which has been divided for most of the duration of the "Chavismo" movement founded by Chavez after he took office in 1999, appeared united after the vote and said its boycott strategy had paid off.

"I implore Venezuelans not to become demoralized, today Maduro is weaker than ever before. We're in the final phase of a tragic cycle for our country. The fraud has been exposed and today the world will reject it," tweeted opposition leader Julio Borges.

It was not yet clear what strategy the opposition would now adopt, but major protests seem unlikely given widespread disillusionment and fatigue. Caracas was calm and many of its streets were empty on Monday morning.

Protesters did, however, barricade some streets in the southern city of Puerto Ordaz, drawing teargas from National Guard soldiers, witnesses said.

Economic pressures

Maduro, who faces a colossal task turning around Venezuela's moribund economy, has offered no specifics on changes to two decades of state-led policies. The bolivar currency is down 99 per cent over the past year and inflation is at an annual 14,000 per cent, according to the National Assembly.

Furthermore, Venezuela's multiple creditors are considering accelerating claims on unpaid foreign debt, while oil major ConocoPhillips has been taking aggressive action in recent weeks against state oil company PDVSA, as part of its claim for compensation over a 2007 nationalization of its assets in Venezuela.

Though increasingly shunned in the West, Maduro can at least count on the support of China and Russia, which have provided billions of dollars' funding in recent years.

Maduro, still proclaiming 'the revolution', feeds off the American attempts to discredit and destroy the far-left government in Venezuela. It appears the American strategy is working against its purpose. If the US was to leave Venezuela alone, perhaps Maduro would be seen as the corrupt dictator he is rather than the skinny kid who stands up to the big bully.